Certified ginger holding down the fort in Cincinnati, Ohio. The banker day job pays the bills, but the nerdy night job keeps the blood pumping. Lover of cats, baseball, anything Blizzard spits out and yellow question marks.
Twice a year the best of the best in speedrunning descend on a U.S. city and bring us a solid week of hilarity, heart and of course, hype. As it has been for the last 7 summers, the marathon came to life in order to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. In 2015 the $1 Million dollar donation mark was hit, which is pretty astounding for the amount of time in which the money was donated. Each year since then the donations bar has been raised higher and higher, with $1.3M being raised in 2016, $1.7M in 2017 and $2.1M in 2018.
This year was different though.
With the support of thousands upon thousands of fans, Summer Games Done Quick 2019 became the fastest GDQ event to reach $1 Million donated. If that wasn’t enough though, in the wee hours of the final day (we’re talking way past midnight), the even came to it’s final donation total: $3,035,604.
It’s astounding to think that in a week $3 Million dollars came pouring in to help Doctors Without Borders and it will be interesting to see how it turns out donation-wise for Awesome Games Done Quick this January.
I’m an avid fan of the marathon and I always try to watch as much as I can. This was a rather Mario-heavy event, but I don’t believe this is such a thing as too many Mario runs and will therefore have to showcase a couple of them. I’ve gathered my 7 favorite runs from this SGDQ for you to feast your eyes upon… and in no particular order:
Donkey Kong Country (SNES/1994) – Any% All Stages Race between Sew_ and V0oid
No GDQ is without it’s funny and expected SNAFUs, and in the middle of this Donkey Kong race you can hear the Skype ring tone go off. Someone at the master control station quickly turns it off… before the caller rings in again. As expected with a short race, the pace is something no mere mortal can handle and the commentators give amazing insight into how easy or difficult each level is. There is also a cool post-race interview with both V0OID and STEW_, which begins around the 48:05 mark.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (WII/2000) – Any% by popesquidward
I will admit any day of the week that the Zelda series has my both my heart and the space where my ginger soul should be, so I have to include at least one Zelda race on this list. Majora’s Mask is one of the most underrated of the Zelda games, one that makes you both manipulate and be a pawn of time. Also, the whole mask manipulation is just plain freaky for a game that’s sort of geared for kids, but we’ll discuss my childhood traumas later. PopeSquiward beats the game in just under 1:22, after being made a fool courtesy of the RNG gods. As usual, the couch commentators explain all the cool tricks in the run, as well as how they work together to beat the game into submission. I love it.
Super Mario World (SNES/1991) – Blind Relay Race between One Tile Men (NobleTOFU, Dode, Barbarian and grandpoobear) and Lunar Magicians (PangaeaPanga, GlitchCat7, LaserBelch and juzcook)
No questions asked, this was my favorite game during SGDQ 2019. The crowd is packed for the insane, intense and exceedingly brutal version of Super Mario World. This is basically Super Mario Maker, retro-style with a little mid of modding to it, which is commonly referred to as Kaizo. Eight of the best Mario runners come to the stage in teams of four and try to beat Mario levels, none of which have ever been seen before. Once one player dies, he hands the control off to the next player in a truly diabolical game of musical chairs. To watch them all work together to get through levels is so damn cool
Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Spyro The Dragon (PS4/2018) – Any% by ChrisLBC
GDQ kicked off with a fun, loud run of Spyro, with dayomaan7 rocking a Spyro, as one does. He spends a lot of the run speaking as his newfound dragon persona, which makes it rather hilarious. Plus, Spyro is the best and the game is just too daggone pretty to not watch a speedrun of ChrisLBC destroying the game.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES/1993) – Any% by teddyras
This run took place in the middle of the night, so the audience was a bit thin, but runner teddyras and couch commentator ecdycis have a hell of a lot of fun. Not only do they rock costumes that look like the two main characters of the game, they are hilarious. Clearly it’s two friends on a couch yelling at a game like the rest of us do, making sure those zombies don’t screw their run over. This game is pure nostalgia for me and seeing him beat it in under 35 minutes is amazing… because in the 26 years since the game’s release, I have yet to beat it. Seriously.
Borderlands 2 (PC/2012) – Co-Op All Quests by Shockwve, Amyrlinn and TheFunCannon
With Borderlands 3 coming out in September, naturally fans of the franchise are excited to return to the chaotic world that Gearbox gifted them so long ago. Beside the three runners clearly having a great time running a very broken version of the game, 4 Gearbox employees join the GDQ call and insert little tidbits and answer random questions throughout the run. Seeing gamers and devs geek out about glitches and scene jumps and damage multipliers is so very cool, and I’m glad the Gearbox employees jumped in on the fun. This run is just under 3 hours long, so no short amount of time, but it’s a great exhibition and I highly recommend checking it out.
Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube/2001) – Any% Race between Jcool114 and Kwaniza
This race is a really good example of how a community comes together. Not only do the runners cheer each other on in a way, the couch talks about how they’ve all beat each other’s records and keep getting better and better. It’s a competition, but there is also an immense amount of teamwork. Super Mario Sunshine has some great game physics and the use of Flood, Mario’s magical water jet backpack. This run also shows how one small screw up can cost you the lead, and possibly the race. Super Mario Sunshine cares not for your feelings!
As a bonus, the GDQ staff made a really cool behind-the-scenes film that gives me all sorts of happy feelings. It also gives a shout out to all the folks who make the show come to life in the first place, putting names with gamer tags and what part of the show they participate in. I hope that they do little recap videos like this every event, so that those people get all the recognition that they deserve! Without them, this undoubtedly would not be the event that it has grown to be.
The gaming community undoubtedly has it’s bad side, but when you see the love, dedication, and heartfelt camaraderie between runners, crew and fans, you can’t help but feel a part of a huge international family. See you all at the next GDQ, taking place January 5th-12th, 2020 in Orlando, Florida.